What's In Blue

Posted Tue 9 Nov 2021

UN Policing: Heads of Police Components Briefing

Tomorrow (10 November), the Security Council will convene for its annual briefing with the heads of police components of UN peace operations. The expected briefers are Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) Police Commissioner Violet Lusala and UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) Police Commissioner Patricia Boughani.

The briefing will focus on women, peace and security (WPS) issues as part of the WPS presidency trio of Ireland, Kenya and Mexico in September, October and November, respectively. Building on the annual open debate on WPS, which took place on 20 October under the theme “Investing in Women in Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding”, the Mexican presidency hopes that tomorrow’s meeting will provide an opportunity to explore UN Police’s contribution to the advancement of the WPS agenda.

Mexico has circulated a concept note to help guide the discussion, which says that tomorrow’s meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss the gender dimensions of UN policing and their role in implementing the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) commitments and priorities. (One of the key commitments of A4P is the implementation of the WPS agenda and its priorities, including by taking measures aimed at the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages of peace processes.)

Tomorrow’s briefing will also serve as a platform to discuss ways to address the emerging challenges facing UN Police. Members are encouraged to explore opportunities for innovation in UN policing, such as the implementation of the strategy for the digital transformation of UN peacekeeping, which was launched by the UN in August to harness digital technologies’ potential for effective delivery of mandated tasks.

Lacroix is expected to speak about the strategic priorities of UN policing within the framework of Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P+), which outlines the UN’s priorities for peacekeeping reform over the next three years. In this regard, he may highlight the WPS agenda as an overarching priority and refer to the implementation of gender-responsive policing throughout UN Police’s work.

The UN has been engaging with member states to increase the number of female police officers based on its Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-2028, which aims to ensure that “the uniformed component of UN peacekeeping is diverse and inclusive of women, reflecting the communities the United Nations serves”. The upcoming UN Peacekeeping Ministerial, which is set to take place in Seoul in December, will provide an opportunity for member states to make pledges of formed police units and individual police officers—with particular emphasis on female police officers—as well as of training and technology.

Lacroix may also describe the progress in fulfilling the intermediate gender parity targets for 2020, including at command levels. The Secretary-General’s latest annual report on WPS, published on 27 September, indicates that the UN surpassed the 2020 targets set in the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-2028 for individual police officers (29 percent against 22 per cent), formed police units (14 percent against 10 percent) and justice and corrections government-provided personnel (34 percent against 27 percent). Seven women are currently serving as heads or deputy heads of UN police components in UN peacekeeping and special political missions deployed in Abyei, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mali, South Sudan, and with the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), as well as the standing police capacity in Brindisi, Italy, according to data from the UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO).

Some of the briefers at tomorrow’s meeting may highlight the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in the design and implementation of all UN police activities as another critical priority in promoting gender-responsive policing. Boughani is expected to speak about this issue in the context of MINUSMA, while Lusala’s briefing is likely to focus on the meaningful participation of women in peace processes and the role of women police officers in protecting civilians in Abyei. These briefers may share their experience from the field, while noting that the role of women police officers is considered critical in community engagement, particularly with women and girls, to address their protection challenges.

There is general agreement among Council members about the importance of UN policing in helping to maintain public order, protect civilians and assist host states in building their law enforcement capacities. Tomorrow’s meeting is expected to be interactive and Council members may seek more information from the briefers about various aspects of UN Police’s activities in the field and inquire about ways to further advance the WPS agenda through UN Police’s work.

Council members might welcome the progress in enhancing women’s participation in all UN Police activities and emphasise the importance of implementing resolution 2538 of 28 August 2020 on women in peacekeeping. Some may wish to highlight the crucial role of women police officers in the protection of civilians, particularly of women and children. Some members might call for the Secretary-General to submit a cross-cutting report to the Security Council on UN policing. The most recent such report was submitted in December 2018, in line with the Council’s request in resolution 2382 of 6 November 2017. Members may also underscore the important role of UN Police in peace operations transitions, including in Security Sector Reform (SSR) and in building law enforcement capacities. Other members, on the other hand, may highlight the primary responsibility of host countries in facilitating the protection of civilians and underscore the need to assist them in building their capacities.

Tomorrow’s meeting will take place during the 8-12 November UN Police Week, during which the heads of UN police components in UN peacekeeping operations, special political missions and regional offices, as well as senior leaders from relevant UN departments, meet to discuss matters relating to UN policing. Among the priority issues expected to be addressed during this week is the promotion of gender-responsive policing in UN peace operations.

Speakers at tomorrow’s meeting are expected to congratulate the winner of the annual UN Woman Police Officer of the Year Award. Established in 2010 to highlight the work of female police officers, the award is presented to an outstanding officer “who distinguishes herself through exemplary conduct and achievements in more than one area of policing that has a significant and meaningful impact on her area of responsibility”. The winner of the 2021 UN Woman Police Officer of the Year award is Superintendent Sangya Malla of Nepal, who currently serves in the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). She was presented the award by Secretary-General António Guterres at a virtual ceremony held today (9 November), in recognition of her leadership and contribution to the establishment of MONUSCO Police’s Health and Environment Unit, which contributed to enhancing the safety and wellbeing of peacekeepers by mitigating the risks from COVID-19 and other threats, according to a UN press release.